MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A woman facing more than two dozen charges of animal cruelty was able to cut a plea deal with prosecutors that will send her to jail for one year and keep her on probation for 15 years. She can also never be around animals again with the exception of one dog.
Cheryn Smilen appeared in court Monday to face her sentencing as animal advocates stood up to testify against her.
They said that Smilen pretended to be rescuing strays, but she was actually hoarding dozens of cats who were found in horrific conditions.
Through tears, Smilen pleaded guilty to a judge who, in turn, had harsh words for her.
Judge Alberto Milian, Miami-Dade Circuit Court, said to Smilen: “It’s hard for me to believe how humans can be so cruel.”
By all accounts, it is the worst case of cat cruelty they’ve ever seen. Dozens of cats were found starving, dead and decomposing in Smilen’s stifling Northeast Dade efficiency three years ago.
“She was supposed to be one of us,” said animal advocate Christine Michaels.
Smilen had been one of the advocates, taking in foster cats and accepting donations to care for those cats until they discovered what was happening.